Transport Canada is relaxing its restrictions on recreational drone users -- eliminating rules for pilots on how close they can fly the devices around animals, buildings, and other structures.

The updated safety measures also shrink the distance that some unmanned aerial vehicles must keep from people, vehicles, vessels, helipads and airports.

Under the new rules, drones that weigh more than 250 grams, but less than one kilogram, must keep at least 30 metres away from vehicles, vessels, and people, instead of the previous 75 metres. Drones weighing between one kilogram and 35 kilograms continue to be restricted to 75 metres.

Operators are now allowed to fly within 5.5 kilometres of airports and within 1.8 kilometres of aerodromes used exclusively by helicopters, down from the previous nine-kilometre restriction for both.

The nine kilometre distance restriction for forest fires has also been expanded to include “all natural hazards or disasters,” according to a statement from Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s press secretary.

The regulatory rethink comes on the heels of fresh evidence that the number of close calls between piloted aircraft and unmanned aerial devices has risen in concert with the growth in use by hobbyist.

A study released last month by the University of Calgary found 355 drone incidents were reported in Canadian airspace between November 2005 and December 2016. The authors said the numbers began to rise dramatically after 2013, when drone technology became more readily available to consumers.

The study also noted that unmanned aerial drones now outnumber piloted aircraft in Canadian skies.